February 14, 2011

Thoughts on BHLDN

Nuptials of Yesteryear inspiration slideshow from BHLDN.com

The Anthro-centric Blogosphere is buzzing with anticipation over BHLDN, the new wedding themed online retailer. And because I recently planned my own nuptials, I count myself among those impatiently awaiting the website launch, timed strategically with Valentine's Day. Like Roxy of Effortless Anthropologie said, this development seems to be an intelligent and logical extension of the Anthropologie wing of Urban Outfitters Corporate. Even if it is clearly separate from Anthro, the saccharine sweet, intrinsically quirky influence is omnipresent. Anyone vaguely familiar with the DIY-influenced, "indie-bride" wing of the wedding industrial complex (as championed through Style My Pretty, Once Wed, Project Wedding, Real Simple Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, etc.) can see how close a fit that trend is with Anthropologie's lifestyle branded aesthetics. And with competitor J. Crew in the wedding game for some time now, it isn't surprising that Anthropologie/UO would hope to score a piece of the profit action. After all, anything with the word "wedding" in front of it comes with a major up-charge.

Although BHLDN was not on the menu of options for my own wedding planning, I was excited to see the dresses, accessories, and decor photographs released this week. Kim of Anthroholic had a three part series on her blog during which she documented extensively the exclusive preview (to which a select group of bloggers were invited). Since Kim is planning her own wedding and is by her own admission the Anthroholic, the launch seems to be very serendipitous for her! I definitely will be among the people scrolling through the pages of BHLDN today for its Valentine's Day launch. I am also excited to keep tabs on what Kim ends up choosing for her wedding, BHLDN or not.

Nuptials of Yesterday family photo I featured at my reception

I am sure even the most dedicated anthro-philes will not (pun intended) feel beholden to buy from this new site. Competition and choices are GOOD things for consumers. But the price points for the undeniably lovely dresses are pretty high for your average "indiebride" (spanning $1000-4000). Though that puts them in square competition with J. Crew's wedding line, there are also tons of dress options from bridal and formal gown boutiques and vintage dealers available for that or less. I really like the vintage-inspired aesthetics of BHLDN but from what I've seen so far, I could not have personally afforded my favorites on the budget I set.  I am intrigued by the guest/occasion dress offerings, accessories, and the beautiful shoes which seem to be available for lower prices (though they're priced higher than the fascinator that I modified from Etsy and my wedding Louboutins).

Nuptials of Yesterday family photo I featured at my reception

This is not to rain of the parade of BHLDN but to merely contextualize it. I encourage brides-to-be to enjoy having one more item on the menu, without feeling confined to or by it. And that is for as many sentimental reasons as practical. One of my fondest planning memories was dress shopping with my mother and sister. Being helped in and out of the dresses by the expert staff at Anne Gregory for the Bride was such a wonderful experience. For me it was also important to go to a local business. I liked having the staff's input, in addition to the people who I brought with me that day. I rarely shy away from shopping online, but buying a wedding dress online is difficult even with free return shipping. Trying on a shipped dress at home without the benefits of a well lit showroom and full length mirrors makes the decision harder. Wedding dresses are the sort of purchase where you want the option to evaluate all angles.

Nuptials of Yesterday family photo I featured at my reception

The highly curated collection from BHLDN likely will be a wonderful addition to the wedding and formal dress shopping industry. And BHLDN has assured potential shoppers that their stock is both exclusive and low volume. That is a great thing for indie/diy brides. But even with that claim, there will be a lot of people viewing the website just for the eye candy. I know I will be!


Tippy said...

It was a little painful looking through the BHLDN site and not crying because everything is so beautiful but useless to me since I got married last year! But it was a pleasant surprise to find that so many of the dresses, shoes, and accessories can be used for other functions so I don't feel as bad anymore :)

tastymoog said...

I guess for the sake of brevity, I would be considered an indie bride (a cringe-worthy phrase). I still feel priced out of bhldn. The fascinator I had my eye on is cheaper than I expected (though at $120 still not cheap). Maybe I'm just too practical for wedding attire; I can't reconcile the desire for something unique and memorable with my need to choose something that can get multiple wears. I do like the pastille mini dress a lot, it might be a good fit for my vision of a post-city hall elopement party.

Lauren S. said...

I was a little disappointed that the shoe prices are so high (nothing below $180 and most of what I admired at the over-$300 range), and low-volume likely means "no markdowns" so I'll probably not buy anything from the line. I did try to imagine if I wasn't already married and planning my wedding now would I spring for some of the stuff? I spent about $750 on my dress with alterations, and would have spent about double that if I had to, so I guess that puts me in the lower range of BHLD's prices. I like the event dresses a lot, especially that polka-dotted Tracey Reese number, but again, at over $300, I just can't justify it as a general special occasion dress.

tastymoog said...

that's a good idea, i'll have to keep checking etsy. i found a cute vintage pillbox hat with veil at a local shop last week, but unfortunately the hat was fur and that's not my thing.

Louise said...

I've just had a look now, believe it or not I'd totally forgotten about it launching today despite having read Kim's three posts with interest last week!

It's all very very beautiful. The dresses are stunning, so unique and different from the usual offerings. Although not a lot of cream or white, not a bad thing of course just something that stood out to me. Some of them look like you could wear them to the Oscars or the BAFTAs too!

I spent hours and hours trawling the internet when I was looking for dresses, I was adamant that I wanted something a little different and definitely not strapless as I was worried about yanking the top up all day. I spent £1000 on mine (not online, instore), whilst I don't regret it (I feel a little guilty from time to time!), it's never seen the light of day since. That would put me at the entry level prices for BHLDN and knowing what I do now, if we went back in time I wouldn't spend that much on one dress. No matter how beautiful, intricate and detailed, as these dresses most certainly are.

I'll still pop on there from time to time just to admire the gowns, they really are breathtaking some of them :-D

Kim said...

Thanks for the link love and shout-out Jess. I appreciate it, and I'm touched you'll be following me to see what I choose for my wedding day :)
As for the price-points, I'm thrilled to have fallen for the most inexpensive dress of them all! Having stood in several weddings, and knowing what my friends spent on non, one of a kind pieces, I am not that put off by the prices. The shoes? My friend just bought a pair that cost the same as the BHLDN shoes, and ones that I've fallen in love with at Nordstrom were way more, so color me happy. How's that for some logic? ;)

Becca said...

It's funny, but as much as I love clothes and dresses (and anthropologie!!), when it came time to buy a wedding dress I just couldn't stomach the crazy prices. That may be because we were funding our wedding ourselves and I am not a huge fan of the typical wedding dresses (a-line, strapless, etc). My dress was under $300. I think if BHLD would have been around when I got married, I definitely would have considered a dress from them - especially if they had ones with sleeves (there was just no way I wanted fat arms in my pictures..hehe).

I am loving the BHLD shoes especially. Makes me wish I had somewhere fancy to go!


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